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  • Kate

I resolve not to set New Year's Resolutions

It is that day...New Year's Eve. A day to reflect on the past year and to look ahead to the year to come. For many, it involves New Year's Resolutions. Years ago, I resolved not to set resolutions just because it is that time in the calendar and everyone is asking about it. Year after year, I see people making bold statements of their resolutions, only to find that a week or two down the line, it is all forgotten. Or worse yet, they have tried and are now dejected because they were not able to keep it up. I've done so myself in years past, and honestly find it depressing and self-defeating.

Do you set resolutions for yourself? If so, is it a well-developed goal, or a simply a broad statement of what you want to do? The turnover into a new year is a great time to consider the coming year and your goals. But unless those goals are detailed and realistic, they are often doomed to fail. Whether it is a New Year's Resolution, or any other goal, set yourself up for success by starting with a solid foundation. I'd like to share several versions of fitness goals, which are so often the focus at this time of year. Which of these exercise goals do you think you would be more likely to achieve?

  1. I will get fit this year.

  2. I will run every day in 2022.

  3. I will do 30 minutes of exercise 5 days each week.

  4. I will increase exercise sessions by 5 minutes/day each month of 2022.

The first one is a great idea, but really too broad to hold yourself to in any way. It would also be difficult to know if you have achieved this goal. The second is more specific, but most of us would have a hard time finding it realistic to achieve every single day, even if we loved running. Numbers three and four are both much better. Committing to a specific amount of exercise a specific number of days is both detailed, and more realistic for many people than the previous examples. The fourth option is a good one, with some specifics to measure while allowing for growth in the goal. This kind of goal is a way for someone who is new to exercise to ease into a routine without getting overwhelmed. Each month the person with this goal can see the increase in their activity level and use that to build to the next.

Setting goals that allow you to dream and grow while also setting you up to succeed will lead you to better outcomes, better resolutions. For many of us, the final step is accountability and support. It can feel scary to share your goals with people but doing so is usually the best way to ensure progress. I have seen some have success by sharing their goal and step-by-step achievements on social media. If that doesn't appeal to you, find someone you can trust, who will celebrate your achievements with you and offer support without judgement when you falter. That could mean friends or family, work colleagues or that long-distance bestie you've known for decades. However, you may find that relying on those close to you in this way is not effective because they find it difficult to be objective or to help you hold yourself accountable.

As a health and wellness coach, I partner with clients seeking to enhance their well-being through self-directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values. As a coach, my aim is to offer unconditional positive regard for my clients. I believe in every person's capacity for change, honoring the fact that each of us is an expert on their own life. Whether your goals involve fitness, emotional health, social well-being or work life, you can be successful. It just doesn't take a New Year's Resolution to do it!

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